Barbara M. Kessler, Esq. ACC is a former lawyer and business executive, an active leader in many not-for-profit organizations and a certified coach who brings a broad range of experiences to her clients.
As Founder and President of Life in Focus, LLC, Barbara uses her expertise as a coach and her 30 years’ experience as a lawyer and business woman in corporate America to assist professional women who are at a career crossroads and are ready to take their “next step”–whether they’re seeking a promotion, changing careers or companies, considering a return to the workplace after opting out to raise their kids or just plain frustrated and stuck. She facilitates their creative process to identify jobs that will reduce their stress and make them feel satisfied, competent and valued. She also helps people hone their interviewing skills so that they can handle any type of question or scenario they may face. The end result is that they confidently position themselves as the right candidate for the job they seek.
Over her career, Barbara has developed expertise in how organizations work and how people select, are chosen for and move through their careers. She has initiated and led cultural change, leadership development and community building initiatives.
Prior to retiring from the practice of law and becoming a coach, Barbara first worked in the litigation and corporate departments of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, a Wall Street law firm. Looking for a more satisfying career, she then moved in-house to Cablevision Systems Corporation, a major publicly-traded telecommunications and entertainment company. Over her 20 years at Cablevision, Barbara enjoyed positions of increasing responsibility including her last role as Vice President Employment Law and Business Ethics. Barbara has finally found her career passion serving as a Career Management Coach.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, St. John’s University School of Law, and New York University’s Coaching Program, Barbara is Treasurer and Director of Corporate Compliance of ICF—LI (formerly known as the Long Island Coaching Alliance). She has been certified as an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) by the International Coach Federation, the Gold Standard in coaching, and is a member of that organization. She is the creator of G.E.M.S.™—A Guide to Exploring and Maximizing Your Strengths™, her proprietary personality self-assessment tool and is the author of Understanding Personality Type: A Key to Business Success published in No Winner Ever Got There Without a Coach, 2013.
More about Barbara
By all external accounts I’ve had a successful career—moving from Wall Street to Cablevision and within Cablevision to senior management roles. I’ve had that “dream job”—creative, interesting and autonomous for a corporate setting. I’ve been the person who senior management looks to for legal and business ethics advice when important decisions affecting employees need to be made. I’ve been valued by corporate standards and others saw me as quite effective.
But, as for me, for most of my career, my life was not in focus. I was stressed a lot of the time. I felt like I was working harder, not smarter. Worse than that, I didn’t feel like I was doing the best job I could as a wife, mother, family member or friend.
Year after year I reached for higher goals, sometimes suffering disappointments when the promotions I thought I deserved were not awarded to me. I was confused by why I couldn’t “do it all.” (After all, that was the promise and goal of my early college years.) For a little over a year, I “opted out” of the workplace to be with my newborn son and was surprised by the challenges I faced returning to work. When I finally joined Cablevision, I was the rarity—a mom with a toddler in a company where most of my colleagues’ wives stayed home to raise their children. In the years that followed, the years when I was “succeeding” and building my professional reputation and expertise as a lawyer, I often felt stuck, frustrated and unfulfilled.
I changed my legal focus within Cablevision several times, tackling new and interesting challenges while always seeking the Holy Grail of feeling satisfied, competent and valued at work. Now don’t get me wrong. Cablevision was a great gig. I made great friends and met interesting people. I was able to hone my strategic thinking and analytical and advocacy skills. I learned an incredible amount and was at the cutting edge of a creative, life-changing industry. At the same time my husband and I raised two incredibly competent, independent, happy and well-adjusted kids. But for me, something was missing. When I “retired” from Cablevision, I knew I was “done with law” but I didn’t have a clue about what was next.
Over the next few years I really learned what transition feels like—scary, invigorating, challenging, nervous-making, lost. I heard all of the comments of the nay-sayers around me (and in my own head)—“How can you give up a job where you are so successful?” “Why would you look for something else when you spent so much time and money becoming a lawyer?” “Why do you always want to rock the boat?” “Why can’t you just “be?”
What I learned during that time and over the years since, there are ways to keep your life in focus doing the things that make you feel satisfied, engaged and effective. For me, becoming a coach and developing an expertise in the area of personality type is my passion, my “right” career. Today, as a Career Management Coach I feel in balance, satisfied and engaged in my work. I hope to help my clients find satisfying work where they, too, can feel effective and valued while at the same time keeping their life in focus.